The Clocks

by Agatha Christie

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I had read this one after all! It didn’t sound at all familiar, but I remembered when I started reading Edna’s musings.

This isn’t one of Christie’s best (yet another the Christies that feature espionage always feel a little creaky!) but it is a pleasant way to while away the hours. Lots of literary musings of both real & imagined authors.

“I have read also,” he said, “some of the early works of Mrs.Ariadne Oliver. She is by way of being a friend of mine,and of yours, I think. I do not wholly approve of her works, mind you. The happenings in them are highly improbable. The long arm of coincidence is far too freely employed. And being young at the time, she was foolish enough to make her detective a Finn, and it is clear that she knows nothing about Finns or Finland except possibly the works of Sibelius.”

Christie was taking a sly dig at herself, especially since this book trades heavily on coincidence – more heavily than any other Christie I recall.

The Draycott Murder Mystery

The Draycott Murder Mystery by Molly Thynne

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


3.5★

I didn’t think i would read another Thynne murder mystery after Death in the Dentist’s Chair, because that title was…well…thin! But I had enjoyed the first Thynne I read, & it was a group read at Reading the Detectives. I’m very glad I decided to give Thynne another try. For a debut crime novel (and only Lady Molly’s second book) this was a good effort.

“Hatter” Fayre investigates the murder of the shady Mrs Draycott at the behest of one of his oldest friends, Lady Sybil Keen. There was great scene setting & sparkling dialogue at the start of this novel, but it really lost its way in the middle and reading it felt a bit of a chore. I guessed the murderer at around the 80% mark and then had to wait impatiently for this tale to be resolved and everything – and I do mean everything to be explained. The conversations and unconscious depictions of 1920’s England kept me going and the story was good enough that I didn’t feel I had wasted my reading time.

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Arrest the Bishop?

Arrest the Bishop? by Winifred Peck

3.5★

I wish Ms Peck had written more than two detective stories because other than the beginning and the end, this one was very readable.

I know these are very big quibbles! 😀

The beginning was a confused mess which meant it took me a long time to get into this story, but I would have still given this title 4★ if it wasn’t for the long, boring post-mortem at the end. Several pages of tedium.

In the middle there were a few lulls but this was still a fascinating look at ecclesiastical life. A blackmailing, evil, drunken man of God – now there is a twist!

Ulder certainly knew how to make an entrance!

…Ulder brushed him aside. For a minute he stood looking around him in malevolent triumph, holding out his hand Then suddenly he caught the back of a chair, staggered and groaned. Next moment there was a heavy crash and fall, and before that motionless circle of spectators the parson lay motionless and livid, while lilies from a vase fell, like a grotesque wreath,across his chest as the water dripped on his unconscious head.

Hmmm… a good copy editor should have caught the double use of “motionless.”

Now the story (for the most part) took off. Peck is very good at characterisation with my personal favourite being the Bishop’s flighty daughter, Judith. Very good plot and an engaging amateur detective.

A wonderful period piece!

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The Mysterious Mr Quin

The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I very much like the retro feel of my edition’s cover

The Mysterious Mr. Quin (Harley Quin, #1) by Agatha Christie



But some other editions have some quite brilliant cover art that capture the who feel of this book

The Mysterious Mr. Quin (Harley Quin, #1) by Agatha Christie
Book covers from Goodreads
The Mysterious Mr. Quin (Harley Quin, #1) by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Mr Quin by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie
The Mysterious Mr. Quin Twelve Complete Mysteries by Agatha Christie




and above all

The Mysterious Mr Quin The World's End and other stories by Agatha Christie



(I’ve had fun collecting these covers, all from Goodreads)

I didn’t care for this title when I read it in my younger years, but the hint of the fantastic doesn’t bother me now and with the exception of The Shadow of the Glass and The Bird With a Broken Wing (this one was too silly for me!) these were all good engrossing stories. I loved the complexity that Christie gave to Satterthwaite’s character and his development as a detective. For he is more than an observer and he is greatly appreciated by Mr Harley Quin. Quin has his own back story which is fascinating to read.

These stories feel like a homage to Arthur Conan Doyle, and to certain extent, Edgar Allan Poe and are none the worse for that.

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The Unfinished Clue

The Unfinished Clue

The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Could there be any greater happiness for a Heyer devotee to discover a book of hers that you haven’t read – one that is actually excellent!

Ok, I have come back to earth now. I powered through the book in less than 24 hours.

Believe anyone that tells you this is the best GH mystery – it quite definitely is!

It has everything I want in a murder mystery – a loathsome victim, a colourful cast of characters, most of whom have plenty of motives to kill the unlovely General Sir Arthur Billington-Smith. Just when I was reading, smugly thinking I had guessed the solution – there is The Twist. & she twists again. Wow.

My only quibble. (view spoiler)[ It is Heyer. So there was a romance. Heyer just can’t help herself. (hide spoiler)]

Heyer in this mystery proves the equal of my personal big three in Golden Age mysteries – Christie, Sayers and Tey. Read it. I know I’m right.

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The Body in the Dumb River

The Body in the Dumb River

The Body in the Dumb River by George Bellairs

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


One beautiful cover.

If I start a review like this you know there is a problem! I loved the previous British Crime Libraries book I read by E.C.R. Lorac (Fell Murder)and couldn’t understand why Lorac has fallen into obscurity. Based on this novel, I’m not having any trouble understanding the same thing about Bellairs.

Mild mannered and diminutive James Teasdale had been living a double life. But who wanted him dead?

By the 40% I no longer cared.

✎ Really dull, pedestrian writing.

At Basilden, he was the only traveller to descend from the train. It was 4 oo’clock and the sun was still shining.In spite of late October, it was warm and dry. The ticket collector had a rose in the lapel of his coat. Littlejohn asked him the way.

Rivetting.

✎ Other than Teasdale’s girlfriend and wannabe singer Henry Wood, no characters stood out in a believable way. The Major was a fascinating if gross caricature. The solution seemed unlikely to me.

What lifted the book above 1★
✎ The above mentioned cover.
✎ Martin Edwards informative introduction (which I think shows Bellairs in his heart of hearts never had much faith in his writing ability)
✎ A quirky final outcome. Appealed to my warped sense of humour.

Thanks very much Poisoned Pen Publishers & Net Galley for this review copy and for being happy for me to share my opinions.

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Fell Murder

Fell Murder

Fell Murder by E.C.R. Lorac

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


My First Net Galley Review! So exciting! With the bonus that I have found a new-to-me Golden Age writer that I think I am going to really enjoy!

The introduction was by Martin Edwards. For me, seemed to be moving into spoiler territory. I stopped reading, but read afterwards and enjoyed his thoughtful comments.

Part of the charm of Golden Age mysteries is that the are often a snapshot in time, showing a vanished world – in this case a farming community in The Fells (just south of the Lake District) I was fascinated by the farming world and regulations in England during WW2. The whole landscape and its characters are so beautifully realised that I felt like I was walking the land with Inspector MacDonald. I did indeed admire his patience.

I have to knock a star off for the murder not being as interesting as the characters, but this is definitely an author that shouldn’t have faded into obscurity.

Bonus:Short Story The Live Wire
Completely different in style this shows Lorac as a very confident writer. I found it amusing – but I have a warped sense of humour!

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press and Net Galley for sending me this review copy and for being happy for me to share my opinion!

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Over My Dead Body

Over My Dead Body (A Nero Wolfe Mystery)

Over My Dead Body by Rex Stout

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


While this Wolfe/Goodwin outing wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t one of their best either. Yes, you have to ignore racism in so many early 20th century books, but this started in this book on the first page.

Until I reached the 50% mark there wasn’t much of the usual Wolfe/Goodwin banter and I found the plot confused and confusing. From the half way point the story does pick up though.

While I should have guessed whodunnit, I didn’t and I think that might have been my general lack of interest in the result. I always found this series very uneven (the modern equivalent would be the Kinsey Millhone series) and one average book won’t stop me reading further.

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